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John Adams Blog

The blog of The Antient and Honourable John Adams Society, Minnesota's Conservative Debating Society www.johnadamssociety.org

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Free Speech (unless the state doesn't like what you have to say)

The Minnesota Senate voted 58-1 to ban protests and picketing at funerals. The House passed similar legislation unanimously. I have to say, I would have voted "nay." This can't be constitutional, can it?

Let us say an abortion doctor is being buried in a Catholic cemetery. Even then, most people wouldn't have the stomach to protest. Hitler, then. Hitler is being buried and his five supporters are there, including his family who want to carry on his work. Perhaps then one might want to protest.

But in a nation that puts the freedom of speech on a pedestal, I don't have to give you an absurd enough example to make you agree. The essence of free speech is that the most abhorrent content must be allowed if the speech which is near and dear to your own heart is to be protected.

Am I missing something? This vote wasn't even close. It was nearly unanimous. Can someone explain to me how this infringement of speech is constitutional?

(For your edification, here is a link to a Strib story on the bill.)

Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

I doubt this is constitutional. Further, the Phelps guy and his family use these laws to make themselves wealthy. They sue and win attorneys fees and their own children are the attorneys.

11:38 PM, March 19, 2006  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I guess I dont see how restricting protests at funerals would restrict free speech. Protesting at funerals leaves the political realm and enters the bad taste realm. At the very least, protesters should be required to get a permit before protesting at a funeral. Therefore, the families can react accordingly.

12:13 AM, March 20, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

(My apologies to Festivus. I didn't see his post before pounding mine off.)

Protestors are likely violating trespassing and other laws. Deal with them that way.

Speech of "bad taste" is precisely the speech in need of protection. Speech about warm feelings and happy thoughts meets with no objection and needs no protection.

6:54 AM, March 20, 2006  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I disagree. I would not support laws against name calling, however, I think such laws would be constitutional if they in no way encroached on someones ability to express their views. What these people are doing at the funeral is harassment, it is not speech. People at the funeral do not need to be at the funeral to protest their views. They can do it somewhere else.

It should not be legal for someone to sit on the street outside someones house and yell whore and bitch all day long (they should not be allowed to sell their drugs either). This is really just harassment, its not speech.

I guess I am not a libertarian.

8:38 AM, March 20, 2006  

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